Chiropractic may only be 117 years old, but spinal manipulation has been around for thousands of years. Massage and manipulation are two of the oldest remedies known to man. In fact, the first pictures depicting spinal manipulation were discovered in prehistoric caves in Point Le Merd in southwestern France. These drawings depicted crude, non-specific attempts to manipulate the spine that date back to 17,500 bc. The ancient Chinese were using manipulation in 2700 bc. and James Cyriax, in his Textbook of Orthopedic Medicine, included a picture of a Buddhist temple with a statue over 2,000 years old showing manipulation of the lumbar spine.
More recently, Hippocrates (460-377 bc), the father of Greek medicine said, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” He wrote over seventy books on healing and was a proponent of spinal manipulation. This great physician was also the first to deal with the anatomy and the pathology of human spine. In his books, he provides a precise description of the segments and the normal curves of the spine, the structure of the vertebrae, the tendons attached to them, the blood supply to the spine, and even its anatomic relations to adjacent vessels. Hippocrates devised two apparatuses, known as the Hippocratic ladder and the Hippocratic board, to reduce displaced vertebrae.
Hippocrates believed only nature could heal and it was the duty of a physician to remove any interference preventing the body from healing. Hippocrates taught that the essence of life and the ability of the body to heal was the result of a vital spirit.
This concept, called Vitalism, persisted throughout ancient writings. The premise of Vitalism considers the human body and psyche as being animated by the vital force, which starts flowing at the moment of conception and which ceases with the death of the body. The flow of vital energy through the body nourishes, heals, develops, and sustains the body. This concept of vital spirit or Vitalism was later replaced with Innate Intelligence by D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic.